- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2000

The events of the past weekend produced not one but two candidates for the Academy of the Overrated (Woody Allen, founder). In boxing, we had previously undefeated Michael Grant being rendered insensate by Lennox Lewis in two rounds. And in basketball we had Vince Carter, the Next Jordan, getting swept out of the playoffs by the Knicks.

Being elected to the Academy of the Overrated is no small accomplishment. For starters, you have to be the recipient of a ridiculous amount of hype, and then you have to go out and fall flat on your face or, in Grant's case, your keister.

The last boxer to be so honored was Gerry Cooney, the Great White Nope. Remember him? He built a reputation fighting cream puffs and has-beens and then got beat up by Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks and 99-year-old George Foreman. Irish Gerry was a perfect for the Academy oversized (6-6, 225) and undertalented.

In fact, since I've got you here, why don't I give you a brief tour of the place? Over on your right is a display honoring Gino Torretta, the 1992 Heisman Trophy winner. Anybody got a current address for Gino? And to your left is a bust of Greg Norman, who at last count was a mere 18 majors behind Jack Nicklaus. Greg does have a clothing line, though, which always scores big points with our selection committee.

Farther down the hall, in our NBA section, you'll find Ralph Sampson and George McGinnis, and beyond them is the most recent addition to our tennis exhibit winsome (lose some) Anna Kournikova. We also have an entire floor devoted to overrated teams the '98 Vikings (the only 15-1 club that didn't make the Super Bowl), the '88 to '90 Oakland A's, the '94-95 Orlando Magic and a number of others.

Please watch your step as you make your way around; we're in the middle of construction. There are so many qualified candidates these days, we had to build a new wing… .

OK, back to Vince Carter. After the series he had against the Knicks, I think we can declare a moratorium on those Jordan comparisons. Carter averaged an underwhelming 15 points in the three games and shot can it be? 30 percent from the floor. Even more unMike-like was his appraisal of his performance. "It was all right," he said. "I wasn't worried about what I did, because I knew they were really going to come out and stop me. It's a team game, and we just didn't get it done."

All right? He shot 3-for-20 in the opener when Toronto had a chance to win. I knew they were really going to come out and stop me? When, exactly, did the Knicks become the '80s Pistons? Heck, during the regular season, Carter averaged 33 points on 60.2 percent shooting in four meetings with New York.

For the record, here's what Jordan did in the playoffs in his second year in the league: He pumped in 43.7 points a game, including a record 63 in Game 2, against one of the best teams of all time, the '85-86 Celtics. MJ's Bulls got swept in the first round just like Carter's Raptors did but that's about the only similarity between the two. Jordan, as the great ones will, raised his level of play in the postseason. And Carter, as the overrated ones will, lowered his.

Michael might be right when he says Kobe Bryant is his real Air apparent. Anyway, Vince, welcome to the Academy of the Overrated. The engravers should have your plaque finished by the end of the week.

As for Michael Grant, he spent more time down than up in his bout with Lewis. And it's not as if Lennox has nitroglycerine in his gloves. Evander Holyfield, far past his prime, battled him for 24 rounds without losing his feet. But then, boxing history is full of frauds like Grant, guys who knock out a string of stiffs to get a title shot and then go tassels-up when they're hit on the chin for the first time. What a waste of 6 feet 7 inches.

Seriously, you look at Grant's list of opponents Frank Hines, Ed Strickland, Charlton Brown, Tyrone Dixon, Lou Turchiarelli, Rick Sullivan, Jorge Luis Gonzales (all first-round knockout victims) and you think to yourself: How did he miss Robert DeNiro?

I'm not sure Grant has much of a future except maybe as a casino greeter. But Carter still has possibilities if not as Jordan Jr. then as a kind of interning Dr. J. It might interest you to know, Vince, that membership in the Academy of the Overrated isn't a life sentence. Why, in the past few years we've paroled John Elway and Andre Agassi, and there's a hearing for Shaquille O'Neal coming up soon.

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